By, Tara Soprano – Injury Prevention Specialist
Heading out the door for a morning run may seem like a daunting task but with numerous health benefits you should reconsider hitting the snooze button. There is no shortage of evidence for the physical and mental health benefits of cardiovascular exercise like running.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide according to the Center for Disease Control. Participating in cardio based exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes, help lower blood pressure and resting heart rate, and overall reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. The heart is a muscle and needs exercise, like any other muscle in the body, to become stronger and more efficient. Studies have shown completing 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week significantly reduces mortality. Over the span of a week this could look like (5) 30-minute sessions. These sessions should be done at moderate intensity. A good gauge of moderate intensity is being able to hold a conversation in full or near full sentences while exercising.
Helps prevent neurodegenerative disease.
Neurodegenerative diseases are chronic conditions that affect the brain and neurons. Dementia, ALS, and Parkinsons are some examples of neurodegenerative diseases. Exercise stimulates the formation of new blood vessels and brain cell growth. The formation of these new structures can improve brain performance and prevent cognitive decline commonly associated with aging. Exercise really is the fountain of youth!
Getting up for your morning run also has a positive impact on your mental health.
Research has shown that moderate cardiovascular exercise has a positive impact on conditions like depression and anxiety. It is notable that any amount of physical activity, even below the recommended 150 minutes per week, had a positive impact on major depressive episodes and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Viewing morning sunlight within one hour of waking has been shown to have a number of health benefits like improved sleep and performance. Viewing low angle morning sun stimulates the release of cortisol which is ideal in the morning hours. This early release of cortisol will help prepare your body for sleep later that night. Viewing morning sunlight on your run will also help regulate your circadian clock which is the body’s alarm clock for anticipating sleep and wake times.
If you are looking to make improvements in many areas of your life, starting with one anchor habit may be the trick.
Stacking your habits is a great way to start new habits by adding on to existing routines. For example, if you commit to a morning run you can improve your mobility by doing a quick five minute warm-up before. Using your morning run as your anchor habit can help make small 1% changes in other areas.
What could starting this new habit look like in practice? While 150 minutes a week is recommended for adults, beginners can work up to that with time. Keep the intensity moderate by using a walk/run combo until you are ready for the full 30 minutes. Alternate walking and running in a 1:1 ratio and slowly ramp up over time. Moderate intensity should feel like work but not so intense that you cannot speak in near full sentences.
Getting out the door for a run in the morning has positive mental and physical health benefits. 30 minutes a day of a moderate intensity run or jog can improve your mood, keep cardiovascular disease at bay, help you get better sleep at night, and could unlock more 1% changes with your new found routine.
About Injury Prevention Specialist Tara Soprano:
Tara Soprano is an Injury Prevention Specialist and an athletic trainer working in the suburbs of Chicago. She received her BS in athletic training from West Chester University of PA and MS in rehabilitation science from California University of PA. Tara has worked in a variety of settings including high school and collegiate sports, sports medicine, orthopedic surgery, and human performance.
About O2X Human Performance:
O2X Human Performance provides comprehensive, science-backed programs to hundreds of public safety departments, federal agencies, and the military. O2X works with clients to elevate culture, improve mental and physical wellbeing, support healthy lifestyles, and reduce healthcare costs associated with injuries and illnesses. Driven by results and cutting edge research, O2X programs are designed and delivered by a team of Special Operations veterans, high level athletes, and hundreds of leading experts in their respective fields of human performance.